[L to R] Idza Luhumyo, Mbozi Haimbe, and  Alithanayn Abdulkareem
Kenyan writer Idza Luhumyo has been announced winner of the 2021 Short Story Day Africa Prize, with Mbozi Haimbe from Zambia and Alithanayn Abdulkareem from Nigeria coming up as first and second runners-ups. Luhumyo won for her short story “Five Years Next Sunday while Haimbe and Abdulkareen with their short stories “Shelter” and “Static,” respectively. Luhumyo is the first Kenyan to win the award since Okwiri Odour’s inaugural win in 2013.

In its eighth year, the Short Story Day Africa Prize, with a total cash value of $1,100, recognizes the best short story submitted for Short Story Day Africa’s themed anthologies. The prize is credited with paving the way for future award-winning authors.

The 2021 anthology is themed “Disruption.”The judges said they were “impressed with the calibre and imaginative reach of the stories – especially as the topic was set before the world as we knew it changed so dramatically and disastrously.”

Luhumyo will receive a cash award of $800, while Haimbe and Abdulkareem will receive $200 and $100 each. Their stories, alongside the other longlisted ones, will be appear in the anthology Disruption: New Short Fiction from Africa, due out in September 2021, from US-based publishers Catalyst Press. 

All three stories are captivating in different ways. Luhumyo’s story is described as “an intense, multi-layered story featuring a rain queen that invokes and upturns all the familiar tropes about drought, the hair of African women and its supposedly aphrodisiac powers, corruption and greed, love and betrayal.” 

Haimbe’s story, “a nail-biting account of a woman’s flight towards safety in a world made hideous by climate disruption,” is praised for being “a moving testament to connection, community, and the power of love.” Abdulkareem’s “Static” “uses light from a collapsing earth to another planet as a vehicle for penetrating and original commentary on neocolonialism and the “exotic”, and the ways in which new hierarchies and patriarchies are invented.

Congrats to all the authors!

Author Bios

Idza Luhumyo is a Kenyan writer with training in screenwriting and a background in law. Her artistic practice lies at the intersection of law, film, and literature. She is currently studying towards an MA in Comparative Literature at SOAS, University of London.

Mbozi Haimbe was born and raised in Lusaka, Zambia, where she lived until her mid-twenties. Her story, Madam’s Sister won the Africa region prize of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2019, and a 2020 PEN America/Robert J. Dau Prize. Mbozi has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge. She was awarded a Develop Your Creative Practice award by Arts Council England in 2020, andis currently working on her debut novel, an Afrofuturistic story based on the Makishi masquerade traditions of the North-western people of Zambia. A qualified social worker,Mbozi lives in Norfolk, UK, with her family.

Alithnayn Abdulkareem is a development practitioner and writer based in Washington DC. She writes mostly opinion articles and personal essays, with the occasional short story to keep things interesting. An alumnus of Chimamada Adichie’s Farafina writers’ workshop, she has been published by Quartz, Ozy, Brittle Paper, Wasafiri, Transition, ID: New Short Fiction from Africa, and others.

Congratulations to the writers!